Written by Reuters
31 Dec, 2018 | 7:52 am
Reuters- Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi on Sunday (December 30) hinted at a bigger Iraqi role in fighting Islamic State militants in Syria as U.S. troops withdraw from the country.
Speaking at a news conference in Baghdad after an Iraqi security delegation met Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Damascus, Abdul Mahdi said Iraq had concerns that Islamic State activity emboldened by the U.S. withdrawal might spill across the border.
Abdul Mahdi said Baghdad sought to move beyond its current arrangement with Syria – under which it launches air strikes against Islamic State militants in Syrian territory – but did not got into more details.
“There are groups operating in Syria, and Iraq is the best way to deal with this,” he said, responding to a question about the possibility of increased involvement of Iraqi forces in Syria.
Iraqi Shi’ite Muslim paramilitary groups backed by Iran already operate inside Syrian territory against the Sunni Muslim militants of Islamic State.
Abdul Mahdi has previously said that about 2,000 Islamic State fighters are operating near the border in Syria and trying to cross into Iraq.
Islamic State was militarily defeated in Iraq in 2017, but has continued to launch guerilla-style attacks on security forces in the north of the country.
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